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Low-Calorie Cocktails

5 ways to keep from overloading on calories when you have an alcoholic drink.
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5 Tips to Curb Alcohol Calories

So how do you keep those calories in alcoholic drinks from adding up so quickly? Here are five tips from the experts.

1. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. The savvy dieter finishes one cocktail, glass of wine or beer, then has a "mocktail" -- a nonalcoholic, preferably zero-calorie beverage (like sparkling water with a lime) that looks like the real thing. This strategy not only reduces the risk of over-consuming calories and alcohol, but it also helps you stay hydrated so your head will thank you in the morning!

"It is a good idea to start the evening with a tall glass of water or sparkling water to satisfy your thirst so you won't use the alcoholic beverage to do it for you," adds Gerbstadt.

2. Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. Just as you might order your salad with dressing on the side, don't be shy about asking for your cocktail your way.

"You can save 100 calories if you have a diet soda as your mixer," says Dawn Blatner-Jackson, MS, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. 

Mix cocktails with water, club soda, low calorie juices, artificial sweeteners or sugar-free syrups for easy calorie savings. Fruit and vegetable juices can be good choices because they are lower in calories than some other mixers and also contain disease-preventing antioxidants. Still, "be careful of fruit juices because even though they are more nutritious, the calories can add up quickly," says Blatner-Jackson.

Some mixers that won't pack on the pounds include:

  • Diet soda or diet tonic: 0 calories
  • Orange juice (6 oz): 84 calories
  • Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz): 136 calories
  • Light orange juice (8 oz): 50 calories
  • Light cranberry juice (8 oz): 40 calories
  • Light lemonade (8 oz): 5 calories
  • Coffee, tea: 0 calories
  • Baja Bob's sugar-free margarita or sweet 'n' sour mix: 0 calories
  • Lemon or lime juice (1/2 oz): 10 calories
  • DaVinci or Torani's sugar-free syrups: 0

3. Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. "Infused vodkas are very popular because they are not sweetened but infused with flavors, from jalapeno to peach, without adding any extra calories," says O'Neil.

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